Photos of girl studying under market stall go viral
Under a bustling market counter in Yichang, Hubei province, a "study room" had been created for a 7-year-old girl with cardboard as a cushion, two paper boxes stacked as a desk, a lamp and a secondhand laptop.
Above the "study room", her parents were chopping braised vegetables and meat for sale to make a living. Under the counter, Ke Enya was curled up and taking classes online due to the shutdown of her school during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The family of three lived a life considered normal in the market until April 29, when Ke's teacher visited the stall. The teacher was touched by the scene and posted pictures of the girl's "study room" on her WeChat moments, which went viral.
A deluge of posted comments encouraged the girl to work hard and described her as a caterpillar in a cocoon who would emerge as a butterfly.
Zhao Weiwei, the girl's mother who could not be reached by China Daily, told Hangzhou-based newspaper City Express that it was common for store owners in the market to care for their children at the stalls. The only difference was that her stall was much smaller.
According to the Changjiang Daily, a newspaper in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Monday, a local communication company opened up broadband access for free at Zhao's stall to help the girl stream her online classes more smoothly. She had been using her mother's mobile phone data to connect to the internet on the computer.
Another company offered to install broadband and a camera in Zhao's home for her to supervise her daughter from the stall.
On Wednesday, Zhao posted an article on her Sina Weibo account saying that she didn't expect so much attention from across the country and that she felt sorry for her daughter.
"If she were born in another family, she would definitely not study under the chopping board, and her living environment would definitely be better," she said.
Zhao and her husband started their business in June 2007. They sell braised and sauced food such as chicken, duck and various kinds of vegetables in an iron stall.
They prepare all food by 6 am and are open until nightfall. After the outbreak, they needed to look after both the business and their daughter.
"My daughter has performed pretty well in her online classes and has never complained about the poor environment," Zhao said."She doesn't make trouble for us at all."
She explained that Ke did not resist staying in the market because she is used to the environment and has some friends there.
The mother expressed her gratitude to netizens who are concerned about the girl's health and said she would increase the size of the stall.
"Being tucked in such a small space and watching a screen for a long time can surely do harm to her, so I would always let her go out to play and do exercise during breaks. I feel sorry, but I am confined to the current situation. That's the best we can do for her," she said.
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